Fightin' Fools

film no. 196

technical details:

Production 2696.

Release no. C-295.

Filmed August 26 to 31, 1940.

Copyrighted December 30, 1940, by Loew's Incorporated. Registration no. LP10339. Renewed January 18, 1968, with registration no. R427157. This copyright is currently due to expire at the end of 2035.

Released January 25, 1941. It was the 196th film in the series to be released.

All-talking one-reeler, lasting 8 minutes and 53 seconds.

Opening title: 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Our Gang in "Fightin' Fools".'

the crew:

Produced by M-G-M
The film credit reads: Produced by Loew's Incorporated. For some reason, Jack Chertok and Richard Goldstone are not credited by Maltin & Bann, but they were in charge of the short subject department during this period.
Directed by Edward Cahn
This credit appears in the film.
Director of Photography: Clyde DeVinna, A. S. C.
This credit appears in the film.
Screen Play by Hal Law, Robert A. McGowan and Sam Baerwitz
Only Law and McGowan are credited in the film, but without McGowan's middle initial. Baerwitz wrote Froggy's recitation, but went uncredited.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Indicated in the opening title card.
Western Electric Sound System
As indicated in the film.
Approved by the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
Passed by the National Board of Review
As indicated in the film.
Teacher: Fern Carter
possible uncredited involvement
film editing - This may have been handled by Leon Bourgeau.
art direction - This may have been handled by Richard Duce.

the kids:

Our Gang aka Spanky and the Our Gang
George "Spanky" McFarland as "Spanky"
Featured role. Or more specifically, "Genral Spanky." He leads the gang into battle after Slicker and His Bunch put knots in their clothing.
Billy "Froggy" Laughlin as "Froggy"
Featured role. He's a "centree." He gives an inspiring speech to rally the troops back into battle.
Joe Strauch, Jr. as "Tubby"
Featured role. He provides the weight behind the gang's catapult.
Mickey Gubitosi as "Mickey"
Supporting role. Or more specifically, "Captin Mickey." He consults with Spanky over the battle plans, but is not featured too strongly otherwise.
Leonard Landy
Supporting role. He's the bugle boy in the gang's army, but is mostly part of the group. This was his final appearance in the series. He's identified as "Leonard" in the scripts.
Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas as "Buckwheat"
Supporting role. He's another "centree." He isn't given a lot of specific attention, but is present throughout most of the film.

3rd Street Bunch aka Slicker and His Bunch
Freddie Walburn as "Slicker"
Featured role. The boys in his bunch variously address him as "Boss" and "Admiral." He's the leader of the opposing army.
Vincent Graeff
Supporting role. Maltin & Bann list him as Billy Ray Smith and indicate that the "Boxcar" moniker was used in this film, but I can't find an instance of this. He has a bit of dialogue, but mostly is part of the ensemble.
Hugh aka Dewey Binyon
Supporting role. He's credited in a casting directory with appearing in this film. In the shot where Slicker is reading Spanky's note, Binyon seems to be the tallest boy there. His first name varies depending on which casting directory he appears in.
Gerald Mackey
Supporting role. Among the five boys listening to Slicker reading the note, he's in the center.
Tommy Tobin
Supporting role. He's to the far right as Slicker reads the note.
other kids
Supporting role. There is one additional boy in Slicker's bunch, shown at the far left as Slicker reads the note. He's also the one that spies on the gang.

the animals:

Bit part. The MGM lion appears during the opening titles.
other animals
Small parts and bit parts.
(1.) The goat that gets hit with the tomato.
(2.) Several chickens.

the adults:

There are no adults in this film.

the music:

"Our Gang" by David Snell
This is played over the opening titles. This is the earlier recording, used prior to "The Big Premiere" (no. 189). This is a medley of three songs:
(1.) "London Bridge" - The earliest reference to this nursery rhyme is in a play from 1659, and it was associated with children by 1720. It may derive from a part of the "Heimskringla" by Snorri Sturluson, which was composed around 1225.
(2.) "Mulberry Bush" - Also known as "So Early In The Morning" and "This Is The Way." It was probably originally called "Here We Go Round The Bramble Tree" in the mid 18th century, with the type of tree changed by inmates of Wakefield Prison, who exercised around a mulberry bush.
(3.) "The Farmer In The Dell" - This nursery rhyme is of uncertain origins.
"The Gang Goes Home" by David Snell
This is a shorter version of "Our Gang," including only "London Bridge."
other music
Leonard plays on his bugle on two occasions. There is also a chime effect as Buckwheat, Leonard and Mickey get hit with limburger.


Six shooting dates went into the making of this film, from August 26 to 31, 1940. Here's a breakdown of the script activity:
May 25 - The earliest available "Fightin' Fools" script derives from this date, but it indicates that 'changes' were made on this date, so there must have been an earlier version. The "Nick" character is present in this version.
May 31 - More changes were made to the "Fightin' Fools" script by McGowan & Law. The story opens with a peace treaty signed by Spanky of Our Gang and Slicker of The 3rd Street Bunch. Waldo officiates over the proceedings. Mickey, Buckwheat, Froggy and Leonard are all present. A kid named "Elmer" brings ammunition to Spanky, but is told that he can take it all back to "Nick" because the fighting's over. Elmer goes back to Nick, who doesn't want his business to go under due to a lack of fighting, so he hatches a plan. This was as far as the story had gotten on this date.
June 1 - More changes were made to the script on this date, focusing on the battlefield sequence.
June 6 - More changes were made to the script on this date. "Tubby" is now part of the story. Situated next to the battlefield is "Genral Spanky's Privat Hedquarters."
June 7 - More changes were made to the script on this date, describing how Nick cons the two sides into fighting again. The spy is introduced into this version.
June 8 and 10 - More changes were made to the script on these two dates.
June 11 - McGowan & Law made more changes to the script on this date, with the Nick story continuing. The battlefield sequence was worked on over the next few days. On this particular date, there had been a change of spelling for "Geniral Spanky's Pryvit Hedqwarters," which is how it's spelled in the film.
June 12 - More changes were made to the script on this date, involving the scene with the spy.
June 13 - More changes were made to the script on this date.
June 14 - More changes were made to the script on this date. Also, Sam Baerwitz wrote a poem entitled "To Arms," described as a 'Recitation for Our Gang short "Fightin' Fools" (For Froggy).' It reads:
Listen, young heroes - Spanky is calling,
This is the hour for the brave and the true,
Come on you guys, and quit your stalling
Fill up the ranks that have opened for you!
Never or now - this is the time for action (sound of cornet)
Hark! Hark! Hark! 'tis the bugle blast, swords are drawn,
Now is the time and the hour of salvation
Never or now - before we are gone!
To arms - to arms - to the tossers once more
Defend yourself Tubby, or you'll be sore,
From the tomatoes that sock you and sock you galore,
By the way, Spanky, what's the score?
Baerwitz added the note: "The above recitation to be written on individual page + placed following last page of script." The version in the film contains about half of these lines.
June 15 - More changes were made to the script on this date, describing the gang's revenge on Nick.
July 6 and 31 - More changes were made to the script on these dates.
Aug. 1 - More changes were made to the script on this date. The beginning of the story was now as it is in the film.
Aug. 2 and 15 - More changes were made to the script on these two dates.

The battle takes place in McGowan's Vacant Lot.

See page 236 of Maltin & Bann's book for this film's expenses and profits. Of the 52 Metro-produced Our Gang films, this one cost the least in prints and advertising.

© Robert Demoss.

My thanks to the following people for assisting with this page:
Ray Frieders (for providing casting directory info on Hugh Binyon)
bigshotjones (for solving the Vincent Graeff/Billy Ray Smith dilemma)
Drina Mohacsi (for helping with Tommy Tobin and Gerald Mackey)

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